97-year-old Margaret Thome Bekema was supposed to graduate from Grand Rapids Catholic Central High in 1936, but sadly home life forced her to leave. She had to take care of her siblings and her mother who was sick with cancer, but recently with the help of a distant relative Bekema was finally able to complete her honorary diploma, a whole 79 years later than originally planned.
“I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Bekema told Mlive. “I had to quit school to take over the family. It was hard, you have no idea how hard that was. I loved high school and I had lots of friends.” Bekema's life has been one of hardship and sacrifice and it seems fitting that her inspiring story is shared with students currently at the college.
Margaret Bekema cried tears of joy when she was presented with her graduation gap.
The 97-year-old received an honorary high school diploma after she was supposed to graduate 79 years ago!
At just 17-years-old Bekema was forced to leave school to take care of her younger siblings and her sick mother.
Current principal, Greg Deja presented Bekema with her long awaited diploma.
The certificate came with a beautiful touch, they had dated it the year that Bekema was due to graduate.
“I had to quit school to take over the family. It was hard, you have no idea how hard that was. I loved high school and I had lots of friends”
She was even given her school letter.
Watch the story here: